The Department of Employment has reported the Travel and Tourism industry is set to grow nationally by 25 per cent in the next three years.
Taking full advantage of this boom is the Sapphire Coast, with 16 significant events planned for the first quarter of 2017.
Isabelle Philistin, who grew up in Merimbula and went to school in Bega, has always been an advocate for the tourism industry.
After studying a Diploma of Tourism in 2012 at TAFE NSW Illawarra Bega, she now works for an international travel tour organisation.
“I wanted to do something different with my life,” the 23-year-old said.
“Having the qualification on paper is what future employers look for.”
As a tour guide in Greece she shows people around beautiful locations overseas and she has travelled to over 20 countries with her employer.
She said TAFE was great as it provided hands-on experience for those who were not ready for or do not want to go to university.
One of her former classmates now owns his own business, another has started university while another has become a teacher.
Deirdre Jory, head teacher of Tourism, Hospitality and Events at Bega TAFE, remembered Ms Philistin as a vibrant and dynamic student.
“Isabelle had a very clear career goal and she has achieved that dream,” Ms Jory said.
“She is very determined and took every opportunity to enhance her learning.
“The way Isabelle handled things under stress at such a young age was memorable. I still use her as an example in class.”
Ms Philistin has lived overseas for four years and calls the Greek Islands home, for the moment at least.
“The Greek culture is different to anywhere else; it’s really family oriented and the food is amazing,” she said.
“Greece is a beautiful country. There’s so much history behind it.”
Ms Jory was excited about the tourism potential in the Sapphire Coast, with the Eden Wharf upgrade announcement and the promise of cruise ships this year.
“There were approximately 17 cruise ships in 2016 and Singapore Airlines now flies into Canberra,” she said.
“We need to make sure we have tourism professionals that are excited by the growth on the Far South Coast.”
If you want to work in the tourism industry the Diploma of Tourism begins this year at TAFE Bega as a full-time study option three days a week.
Semester 1 enrollments across TAFE Illawarra are open, visit www.tafeillawarra.edu.au or call 1300 766 123.
In related news, TAFE Illawarra is opening its doors from January 16-20 to showcase its innovative approach to high-quality education and training that enables students to get jobs and careers for the future..
A campus showcase will be on January 19 from 3pm to 6pm at Bega TAFE on Barrack St, Bega. It includes tours, live demonstrations and presentations.